‘Beira Mar’: Interview with directors Filipe Matzembacher & Marcio Reolon

gay-film-beiramar

How do you film youth?

These two young Brazilian filmmakers were able to capture the fleeting nature of youth in Beira Mar [Seashore], a vivid film with stunning performances that beautifully portrays the relationship that develops between two young boys.

bm-cartaz-04_670Films fresh out of film school tend to feel very constructed, formulaic almost, as graduates want to show off their trade. But Beira Mar is not like that. It feels very organic, like the breeze that sweeps the seashore where it was filmed.

A cool color palette captures the essence of Puerto Alegre, in chilly southern Brazil, close to Uruguay and Argentina, a world apart from the heat, the color, and the samba of further north.

“That’s something that we hear a lot, that people get confused when they see the film,” says Reolon. “Because they imagine that Brazil is not like that.”

But Beira Mar could take place anywhere in the world. It is a universal story. You just want to keep watching it naturally unfold.

Beira Mar has played at film festivals in Berlin, Guadalajara and San Francisco. After presenting it to an enthusiastic full house at Teatro Diana in Guadalajara, México, we sat down with Marcio and Filipe to talk about their film.

Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon directed Maurício Barcellos and Mateus Almada (right to left).

Directors Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, and actors Maurício Barcellos and Mateus Almada (right to left) at the Guadalajara Film Festival.

How did the film come about?
We met in film school when we were in our early twenties. We started to talk and realized that we had a very similar adolescence. We shared the same fears, the same desires. We grew up going to the same beach, the beach where the film is set, Capão da Canoa. We decided to take my memories of when I was 18 years old, and with those memories we filled one character. And then we took Filipe’s memories of when he was 18 years old and we built the other character.

The challenge to develop the script was to confront these two memories from an age prior to the one when we actually got to meet. So the whole idea came out of that. The characters are 18 but we met when we were already in our twenties, that’s what I mean. Since our very early short films, we each approached the theme of youth and sexuality in our projects. So we wanted to do a film that was related to that.

One of the actors had no acting experience, the other very little. But the performances you got from them are wonderful! Did you guys rehearse much?
We started with weekly meetings to talk about the characters, about the things that would be in the film. And to see how they related those feelings, where the actors had those feelings in their own lives. And then we did something that was almost like group therapy. The four of us shared a lot of intimate things, which became kind of like our secret, our space. We then started to construct the characters, did some readings of the script, and rehearsed a few scenes. And in like four months, we began to shoot.

maxresdefaultYou said once that you consider yourselves to be ‘actors’ directors,’ given your previous experience in acting…
For us, the most important part of a film is dealing with the actors. We had some very bad experiences being directed sometimes. It is very common in professional sets, and with very well known directors even, they do not have real respect for the actors. Beira Mar is guided by the actors. They are the ones who tell the story, the ones who conduct the story. For us it is extremely important that they are feeling comfortable, that they are secure. And that we only go to shooting when we know they are ready to do it. Especially with young, inexperienced actors, we really needed to take the time to make sure they would be comfortable, so that once we had the cameras rolling they would know what to do and be comfortable doing it.

Being filmmaking in Brazil very subsidized, why did you guys produce your own film instead of seeking public funding?
We did at the beginning, but we did not want to wait too long to shoot. Because it is a film about youth. We always enjoyed young cinema. But sometimes, when we were teenagers, we found difficult to connect with some films because they portrayed youth in a more nostalgic, idealized way. But we wanted to be as direct and honest with youth as possible. We wanted to do this film when we were as young as possible. We could not wait for too long to raise the funds, so we decided to do the shooting with private investment. Then for the post-production we did apply for funds and we won funds for post production. But we needed to do this film urgently.

Because of the fleeting nature of youth…
Exactly. Had we done this film five or ten years later the film would have been completely different.

You mentioned films that found inspiring, could you mention a few?
Many films were important to us when we were teenagers and we felt connected to them. They did not have a direct influence on Beira Mar, but we enjoy the work of Gus Van Sant, Alexis Dos Santos, Larry Clark… They all have a special view of youth. That is the most important part. They do not ignore some aspects of youth.

You guys produce LGBT events in your hometown.
We produce and program events in our hometown. Festival CLOSE, now in its fifth edition, focuses on LGBT films. ‘Dialogo do cinema,’ is more about cinema in general. While Sao Paolo has a lot of events related to LGBT, in Rio Grande do Sul we do not have them, so we felt a need. We are very activists when it comes to the LGBT cause. We volunteer for NGOs and we organize events together. They have a very strong artistic component but we also care about social issues. We have very different audiences with women, men, transgenders.

Maurício Barcellos, Marcio Reolon, Filipe Matzembacher and Mateus Almada during the shooting of Beira Mar (left to right).

Can you talk about the gay scene in Porto Alegre? Is society there conservative?
Brazil is living in a very particular moment now. A general movement of people are becoming more open to LGBT generally speaking. But politically, Brazil is becoming very conservative.This year started the most conservative Congress we have had in 50 years. For some time now, we have been trying to pass a law that criminalizes homophobia. Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries for LGBT people in the world. There is really a lot to be done when it comes LGBT rights.

How is Beira Mar doing?
This our second festival. We premiered in the Berlinale and we have some festivals lined up in Europe. We are really happy to be in Guadalajara because the short that we did with Filipe before [Um Diálogo de Ballet, A Ballet Dialogue (2012)] had its international premiere here in 2013, and we could not come back then. So we are really happy to have our first feature film being shown here. It is a really special moment for us.

Are you working on something new?
At the last edition of the Hubert Bals Fund of the Rotterdam Film festival we were awarded in the category of script development. So we are developing our next project, Neon Boy. We are working on the script, setting up partnerships, applying for funds… It is a love story between two webcam porn actors. It talks about how people portray themselves in a more idealized way on the Internet than in real life, the difference between the real and the virtual world.

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